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Use of medication and supplements by top football players

In the study, nearly 3000 team physicians reported on players use of medications and nutritional supplements. Among those frequently taken include NSAIDs, Beta agonists, inhaled corticosteroids. However, NSAIDs were taken by over half of the players while the rest were taken by less than 2% of the players each. The most common nutritional supplements taken were vitamins and minerals, followed by creatine, L-carnitine, and amino acids.

The authors note that, "While the present study was able to document the prevalence of medication use in top athletes, it was not able to scrutinise the underlying motivations for, or the likely implications of, such use."
No relationship between team success and the amount or kind of medication was found. Not surprisingly, those players with higher average playing times were prescribed more medications and more NSAIDs than were those who played less time. Interestingly, significantly more players used no substance at all (38%) than at the Olympic games in Sydney (22%); however NSAIDs use was higher. In another study of football players in Germany, 86% were reported to be using NSAIDs currently.
The authors write, "Although there are reports of a high prevalence of sustained adverse effects with NSAID use in athletes and alternative substances are well-known, the indication for NSAIDs appears to have been broadened to almost any painful condition. The current literature does not provide any conclusive evidence to justify this high usage."
The researchers recommend that athletes consult with physicians before taking any kind of medication, particularly NSAIDs, because of the possibility of adverse effects from such high rates of usage.

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